Exploring Relationships and Empowering Action:
An Ocean Literacy Reader

Special Issue – Coming soon! Publication date June 8, 2021

Guest Editors:
Lisa (Diz) Glithero Ph.D. (Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition)
David Zandvliet Ph.D. (Institute for Environmental Learning, Faculty of Education, Simon
Fraser University)

Following the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference (2017, New York), UNESCO recognized the value of engaging citizens on a personal level, towards the development of a “civic relationship with the ocean” (ref Toolkit, p. 61). In Canada and abroad, there is a growing interest in ocean literacy or the extent to which we understand our impact on the ocean and the ocean’s impact on us. This has been further signaled by the inclusion of ocean literacy as a strategic objective in the upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). Despite the importance of ocean science, policy, governance, management, conservation, and industry in the coming decade, the role of educators and other stakeholders (at all levels of the education system) will be essential in ensuring Canadians understand, value, and act with ocean health in mind.

The federal government states that Canada is an ‘ocean nation’ but to what extent is the ocean, and the idea of Canada as an ‘ocean nation,’ part of our national stories and values? In an era of increasingly complex changes and challenges—climate change, biodiversity collapse, mass migration, food and water shortages, resource extraction, consumption patterns, and plastic pollution (to name a few issues)—addressing the impact of human activities on marine ecosystems is important. As Canadians we must consider how we will support this renewed focus on ‘ocean literacy’ for ourselves. Beyond a scientific definition, we ask:

  • As Canadians, what is our ‘civic relationship’ with the ocean?
  • How could a ‘civic relationship with the ocean’ be cultivated and described?
  • What do our existing civic relationships with the ocean look like across Canada’s diverse regions and sectors? Whose voices will be heard in the coming dialogue?